China has successfully launched this Tuesday, at 01:40 a.m. local time (7:40 p.m. Spanish peninsular time on Monday), the first quantum communication satellite using a Long March 2D rocket, as reported by Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese government. The launch site was the Jiuquan satellite launch center, in the Gobi desert, located northwest of the Asian giant.
The satellite, called Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), weighs just over 600 kilograms and will circle Earth every 90 minutes after it enters a synchronous orbit. to the Sun at a height of 500 kilometers.
QUESS is also popularly known as Mozi in honor of a 5th century BC Chinese philosopher and scientist. —Also known by the nickname of Señor Mô— who is considered one of the first human beings to conduct optical experiments.
During its two-year mission, the spacecraft experiments will investigate how to establish quantum communications "cyber-proof" by transmitting indecipherable keys from the spacecraft to Earth.
Another of its objectives is to provide new data, from a privileged setting such as space, of the strange phenomena associated with the quantum world, such as superposition, entanglement, teleportation and the so-called 'phantasmagorical action at a distance' that particles exert on others even if they are very far away (and in which Einstein did not believe).
With the help of the new satellite and quantum entanglement, scientists will be able to test the distribution of super-secure quantum keys between the satellite and various ground stations, establishing quantum communications between Beijing and Urumchi in Xinjiang province.
QUESS will transmit entangled photons to two ground stations 1,200 kilometers apart to analyze quantum entanglement over long distances, as well as testing quantum teleportation between Ali's ground station in Tibet and the satellite itself.
"This satellite marks the transition of China's role from a follower of classical information technology (IT) development to a leader guiding future IT achievements," said Pan Jianwei, senior scientist at the QUESS project and researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Collaboration with other countries
According to Pan Jianwei, the Chinese researchers also plan to test the distribution of quantum keys between QUESS and ground stations located in Austria, Italy, Germany and Canada, together with institutions that have already expressed their willingness to cooperate with China in the future development of constellations of quantum satellites.
Scientists trust that quantum communication will radically change human development in the coming decades, due to the enormous possibilities it represents in fields such as the economy and the military, although the debate is also opening on the security challenge that it would pose. have a 'super power' to crack current encryption systems.